9 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2019
    1. “Electricity;”

      Like the air-pump, recent experiments with electricity also fascinate Victor even while he reaches for a non-modern "system" that would be antithetical to empirical scientific reason. See Iwan Morus, Frankenstein's Children: Electricity, Exhibition, and Experiment in Early Nineteenth Century London (Princeton UP, 1998).

    2. I had heard of some discoveries having been made by an English philosopher

      It is unclear who this English philosopher might have been, though it might be a reference to Erasmus Darwin, who Percy Shelley cites in the novel's introduction.

    3. Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate

      Not called "science" until the mid-nineteenth century, "natural philosophy" was science in the tradition of England's Royal Society (begun 1660), with its emphasis on Baconian induction, careful experiment, and refusal of any older science that could not be proven and demonstrated in a laboratory.

    4. Albertus Magnus

      Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) was also the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is often praised for his rejection of dogmatic philosophy and his stress on experimentation. Many books, including the Little Book on Alchemy, were falsely attributed to Magnus but likely written by Paracelsus.

    5. Seneca

      identify

    6. would owe their being to me

      Victor appears so engrossed in his creation that he forgets his discoveries are predicated on the previous research of scientists and natural philosophers. He fails to acknowledge that he "stands on the shoulders of giants," to use the phrase from Sir Issac Newton (1642-1726), including his teachers, a shortcoming indicative of pride of ownership.

    7. air-pump

      An essential instrument for scientific experiments on gases, the first entirely successful air-pump was created for Robert Boyle's experiments at the Royal Society in 1661. Victor's enthusiasm for a modern scientific instrument counterbalances his attraction to magic and pre-modern philosophy. For the broader significance of this invention, see Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump (Princeton University Press,1985).

    8. a course of lectures upon natural philosophy

      Far more than printed books, attendance at lectures on natural philosophy instructed thousands of eighteenth-century students of the sciences. Mary Shelley indirectly refers the reader to the vastly popular London lectures on the sciences to which audiences had been flocking since Humphry Davy's inaugural lecture in 1802. Anne Mellor has persuasively argued that Davy was a partial model for the character of Victor in this novel. [Anne Mellor, Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (Routledge, 1989) pp. 91-103)]

    1. Dr. Darwin

      Shelley refers to Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), the polymath poet, inventor, and scientist who controversially speculated on the materialist idea of life's origins in matter.